What is Internet Marketing? How to Succeed and Sell Online.
Can You Believe This?
Over the last few years I have sold well over the equivalent of R5 million of products for other companies using the power of the Internet. In every case I did not know who the purchaser was, nor the exact product purchased, and I certainly didn’t know how it was delivered. I never even saw or handled any product. I had no delinquent debtors, no creditors, and no stock. My share of the profits on these sales was over R750,000.
Most of these products were bought and sold in either the UK or USA.
Without me these sales would not have been made.
I know, this sounds crazy and I can’t blame you for thinking this. So, how was this possible?
It was only possible because I knew how to find people who were looking to buy those products. I did this by mastering the art and science (a bit of black magic too) required to harness the power of the Internet to sell to willing buyers. I refer to myself as an Internet Marketer.
Internet or Web Marketing is a term being used more and more as people access the web more, broadband connections grow and people sense there is real power in marketing products through the world wide web.
But exactly what do people mean when they express the thought or view that Internet Marketing is an opportunity or, as some say, a failure or simply something every organisation needs to embrace the future?
There are almost certainly many views on what Internet Marketing is so in this article I am simply expressing my view based upon my own online experiences, what I’ve learned from others and having taught aspects of Internet Marketing.
Of course this article could never be considered definitive or complete yet it is probably a good way to explain the main components that need to be understood and then bundled together to suit strategic and operational approaches to making ongoing sales online.
Marketing at the Strategic Level
When all is said and done the sole objective of sales-related marketing is to promote profitable sales now and into the future. In this sense marketing is a strategic business component since the failure to sell at a profit means only one thing … the business sooner or later will not be able to continue.
Sales happen because there is …
1. A desire (note I did not use the more common term “need”) at a specific point in time for the product offered since it is a strong desire rather than a need that results in a potential sale. When there is a desire emotion takes over and it is emotion that often prompts purchasers to buy rather than a simple need. The greater the amount of emotion as evidenced by more pain or more pleasure then the more chance of a sale. This is especially true on the Internet.
2. The product offer, by the company, at the same point in time was sufficiently interesting to the potential purchaser in terms of price, functionality, consumer benefits and advantages etc
3. The purchaser was, at the same point in time, in a position to acquire the product (ie there was a budget available or enough cash available or approval had been given).
That’s all there is needed to make a sale.
If any of these 3 components is NOT complied with at the point in time then no sale will take place at that stage … and maybe never.
Separate Marketing and Sales Department are Doomed to Die
Marketing and Sales are true blood brothers online whilst off-line they are often seen as separate functions working in their own separate ways and often in isolation.
Off-line, in the bricks and mortar world, in my view it is almost always impossible to effectively and speedily measure the impact of marketing campaigns at an ROI level. On the other hand sales speak for themselves … they are measurable in many ways right down to the ROI level.
In the world before the Internet marketing to most people meant Advertising. Marketing departments were rarely responsible for the sales.
The Magic of Marketing Measurement Online
The Internet has made it possible to measure the impact of any online marketing campaign in almost real time on a company’s bottom line. It is quite possible and in fact essential that the marketing department is asked questions like the following after completing (or every day for that matter) a marketing campaign online:
What did the campaign cost?
How many sales did we make?
What was the turnover?
How many sales came via telephone?
How many sales came via a form?
How many sales came via email?
What was the cost for each sale?
What was the gross and net profit per sale?
What was the overall ROI for the campaign?
Which parts of the campaign were (a) highly successful (b) successful (c) not successful?
How can we improve our next campaign?
There are many more questions and answers made possible by using low cost (often free) tools that enable these metrics to be known and exploited with great accuracy.
I think you’ve got the message however … that campaigns are directly and objectively measurable in terms of money. Fast talking will no longer help.
BEWARE … many traditional marketing departments do not always like this. Such tools and techniques also allow Sales to do the Marketing and thus control profitability to a much greater extent.
Why Do Great Companies like Pick ‘n Pay, Makro and Woolworths Fail Online?
Witness the general failure of marketing departments in South Africa to embrace the Internet and create websites that work.
Notice the dismal failure of major retail websites to address even the basic concepts associated with good marketing design (probably to with the fact that the website is part of the IT department).
Why can I not find any major retailer when I do a Google search for the products that they sell and promote extensively? Try this … go to Google and search for wedding gifts and see if Woolworths, for example, are high up in the results. Take the Makro catalogue search for any item in the catalogue on Google and you will not see Makro in the results.
Open any magazine, newspaper or trade related publication and note the almost complete absence of Internet marketing discussions.
I can only guess at the real reason …
Top management and company Boards do not yet consider or fully understand the power that the Internet offers as a strategic and dynamic business tool.
They remain blind to major step changes happening around them.
They seem oblivious to the dynamics of the shift away from corporate power to consumer choice. They are ignorant to the true marketing power the Internet provides. Such as …
Real time ROI on any business campaign, almost instantaneous accurate large scale market research possibilities, massive PR opportunities at the press of a button for less than $80, large scale catalogue distribution all done in house without the costs of studio design and print house costs and the ability to put a product range in front of new customers at extremely low cost.
It is now possible to run an ad campaign, measure its impact make a change and segment the audience the campaign is shown to and also decide the time of the day and or day of the week the campaign starts and stops. And you can do this every hour of the day if you like.
And the cost of doing all these things is unbelievably low.
The Tactics of Internet Marketing Include …
SEO … search engine optimization to increase chances of being found on search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN
SEM … it the generally accepted term for PPC (pay per click) search engine marketing. Google Adwords is the best example by far of effective search engine marketing. It has totally and irrevocably turned media adspend on its head for the simple reason control is provided on an almost real-time basis and it has made it possible for non-expert advertising people to create extremely effective and profitable advertising campaigns at a fraction of previous costs to create an immeasurable ad campaign.
PR … the power of the web to act as a PR (either Press Release or Public Relations) on a one-to-many basis is unparalled and the cost of distributing your PR to a massive audience is miniscule
Niche Marketing … the Internet allows the most granular of marketing approaches. Choose a niche and a niche within a niche for perfect prospect targeting.
Copywriting for sales conversion … traffic without sales conversion is in many cases pointless. On the Internet there is a right and a wrong way to create copy. The copy is vitally important. It will make or break your whole campaign whether based on SEO or SEM.
Blogging … is the entry into RSS distribution and a means of keeping your organisation top of mind.
Social Bookmarking … the close equivalent to word of mouth in the real world. Of particular importance to the younger (more Internet savvy)sections of the population.
Website freshness and size … you need people to keep coming back to your website. They will if the content is fresh and useful.
Making bigger and better sites since these perform much better than small websites so the continual addition of good relevant content is vital.
Link building … you need traffic and link building at this stage is the single most important way to ensure maximum visibility on the web especially with respect to competitive markets and search engine traffic.
Rapid market research on all aspects of product launches and viability is made possible, quick and easy using surveys and intelligently crafted PPC tactics.
Media integration … text, sound, video, images make up relevant content. More and more broadband users make distribution of important message via sound and video easier and low cost. The ability to produce and transmit video and sound online is simple and in some cases even free.
Back end selling … as Mark Joyner says if you have an irresistible offer and a thirsty audience then always make sure you offer them a second glass to quench their thirst. Back end selling to a customer list is the key to major profitability using Internet Marketing techniques.
In-house and customer communication channels … the creation of web sites by outsiders is no longer the way to go. The addition of content to a company website should be be an in-house function and it must be easy to do. Present day systems make it both possible and desirable to add content on a continuous ongoing basis.
Branding … is far less important on the Internet than imagined since the power of search creates attractive alternative opportunities to a Brand. It remains nevertheless an important medium for Brand promotion now and into the future.
Internet Marketing does not replace traditional media activities. It should be seen as complementary to and an important stepping stone to broader media uses … off-line promotional activities and advertising are expensive ways to promote products and services although they will remain important and even more so in targeted niche markets.
The Web allows an intended media campaign to be extremely well researched and tested before spreading it to the larger mass media. Flying blind or putting your company’s promotional activities solely in the hands of a 3rd party agency is the wrong strategy for the future.
These tactics share only a minor interface with the following … avoid the mistake of placing Internet activity in the hands of
Web design experts
Technological or computer experts